Making Offshore Wind History: Vineyard Wind Approved for Construction and Operation

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The 800 MW Vineyard Wind project has received final approval from the federal government to proceed with construction and operation, marking a major milestone in the U.S. offshore wind industry.

“Offshore wind represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for communities across Massachusetts, especially in the South Coast region, to pioneer this new clean energy industry in the U.S.,” says Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Building this new industry will bring new jobs and economic development to cities and towns in the commonwealth while providing a significant clean energy resource that will save rate payers money while helping to meet our ambitious climate goals.” 

The first large-scale project of its kind in the country, Vineyard Wind will be located about 12 nautical miles off the shores of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) record of decision will enable the developers to install up 84 turbines in an east-west orientation, all with a minimum spacing of one nautical mile between them in the north-south and east-west directions. Current project plans call for the installation of 62 GE Haliade-X 13 MW turbines, using 107-meter blades.

Prior to construction, Vineyard Wind must submit a facility design report and a fabrication and installation report. These engineering and technical reports will provide specific details for how the facility will be fabricated and installed in accordance with the approved construction and operations plan.

The record of decision also adopts mitigation measures to help avoid, minimize, reduce or eliminate adverse environmental effects that could result from the construction and operation of the project. These requirements were developed through input, consultation and coordination with stakeholders, Tribes, and federal and state agencies.

“This project represents the power of a government-wide approach to offshore wind permitting, taking stakeholder ideas and concerns into consideration every step of the way,” says BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “We will continue to advance new projects that will incorporate lessons learned from analyzing this project to ensure an efficient and predictable process for industry and stakeholders.”

Lars T. Pedersen, CEO of Vineyard Wind, says the federal government’s approval “is not about the start of a single project, but the launch of a new industry.”

“Receiving this final federal approval means the jobs, economic benefits and clean energy revolution that have been long talked about can finally come to fruition,” he remarks. “It’s been a long road to get to this point, but ultimately, we are reaching the end of this process with the strongest possible project.”

In August 2020, the Baker-Polito administration announced the signing of lease agreements with Vineyard Wind and Mayflower Wind to utilize the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal as the primary staging and deployment base for the construction and installation of their offshore wind projects located in federal waters south of Martha’s Vineyard.

The lease agreements commit the facility to full-time offshore wind work from 2023 into 2027 and are worth more than $32.5 million.

Constructed and operated by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal is a 29-acre heavy-lift facility and the first port in North America specifically purpose-built to support the staging and installation of offshore wind components.

Photo: The GE Haliade-X prototype

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